Saddle up: Kids learn about horse science at Edgerton Explorit Center | Grand Island Local News

AURORA – Students attending a weeklong summer session in Aurora learn about horses inside and out.

Presented by the Edgerton Exploration Center, the camp is called “Horse Science.” In addition to riding and caring for the animals, the youngsters receive anatomy lessons.

Instructors paint the horses to show what’s inside.

“So they can see in the horse the bones and where they are,” says Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center. It’s more effective than showing them a piece of paper, she said.







Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center hosts an Equine Science class at her home in rural Aurora on Monday mornings.


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The center offers four “Horse Science” sessions each summer. This is Edgerton’s 10th year of horse experience.

The center tries to offer opportunities that aren’t available elsewhere — things that are “a little different and unique,” she said. Not everyone has access to horses, Molliconi said.

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“And there’s so much science in animals. There’s science everywhere, but especially with animals,” she said.

A dozen children are in the current session, which began on Monday. After gathering at the Explorit Center, the children are taken to Mollicone’s property on the edge of town, where she keeps four horses.

On Tuesday morning, the children learned how to groom a horse. “They usually like to bathe,” Molliconi said.







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Lily Thomas, 6, rides a horse during the Science of Horse class at Mary Mollicon’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center teaches the class.


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Hoof cleaning is important, she said, because a stone can upset the animal.

At the horse camp, Molliconi is helped by several young adults, including her son, Jacob.

In addition to learning about tacks, bridles and poles, the children learned how to dress a horse with a blanket and saddle. A saddle, they learned, weighs 50 or 60 kilograms.

Some of the campers had been around horses before. Some had not.







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Sarah Havlick with the Egerton Exploration Center shows children how to clean horseshoes during Horse Science class at Mary Mollicon’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center teaches the class.


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The horses – named Gunner, Harley, Winston and Bo – love having youngsters around.

“They love kids — all the attention. Who wouldn’t want that?” Molliconi said.

Dakota Reynolds, 7, preferred Gunner. “Because he looks cool,” he said.







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Sarah Havlick with the Egerton Exploration Center guides Piper THomas around the horse Winston during Equine Science class at Mary Molliconi’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center teaches the class.


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Molliconi told the kids that a horse has a rhythm, and riding is smoother if you find that rhythm.

Brynleigh Scheidemann, 9, said horses are soothing and calming.

There is more to horse riding than you might think. When you sit on top of a horse, Molliconi said, the ears, shoulders, hips and heels should all be in a straight line.







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Dakota Reynolds of Henderson rides Bo the horse during Equine Science class at Mary Mollicon’s home in rural Aurora Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center teaches the class.


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She also told the youth how to hold the reins and how to lead a horse. Your hands should never leave the area in front of the saddle, which is called the table.

Reynolds enjoyed his trip. The most surprising thing about riding the horse, he said, was “that he actually listened.” The animal turned and stopped when Reynolds directed it.

Arley McEndarfer, 11, loves the feeling of walking — “jumping and going fast,” she said.







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Austin enjoys his experience riding a horse during the Science of Horse class at Mary Molliconi’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. The class was hosted by the Edgerton Exploration Center in Aurora.


If the sight of little kids on horses wasn’t cute enough, some of them were wearing adorable helmets. Piper Thomas, 5, had a unicorn-style helmet.

Austin Walters, 6, wore a Paw Patrol hat.

Looking inside a horse’s mouth, a child mentioned that the animal’s teeth were dirty. All horses have dirty teeth, Molliconi said. It is not practical to wash them.

Molliconi tries to show kids everything that goes into owning a horse, including horse appreciation.







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Lily Thomas pet Bo the horse during Equine Science class at Mary Mollicon’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center teaches the class.


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The class teaches children about responsibility, gives them confidence and instills leadership, because you have to be a good leader to ride a horse, she said.

Two of the people who helped Mollicon were Tim Havlik, 23, and his sister, Sarah.

Sara, 22, has always had a passion for horses.

“I love how beautiful they are. They’re fast. They’re intelligent,” she said. They love animals, and she loves them.







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Jacob Molliconi guides Dakota Reynolds and the horse Gunner around a course during Horse Science class at Mary Molliconi’s home in rural Aurora on Monday morning. Mary Molliconi, executive director of the Edgerton Exploration Center who teaches in the classroom.


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Molliconi teaches kids about dog anatomy in another summer activity. This year, the Explorit Center also added a class for cats.

This summer’s final session of Horse Science comes next week. But it’s already sold.

So young people who want to spend the week with horses will have to wait until next year.

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